Changing habits is hard. (People used to smoke in restaurants.) Residents and visitors begin to sense something is happening when a city begins to add bike lanes, bump outs for pedestrians, create a road diet to slow cars and calm traffic, build parklets for people, or have an open, car-free event in the streets. All of the above are happening in Asbury Park. Are we ready to reduce or eliminate cars from the center of our city? Maybe not yet…but we are learning that cars are not good for the environment, for public health, or for general quality of life. With the public transit added to the process we may be able to achieve a car-free city center someday.
What happened when Oslo decided to make its downtown basically car-free?
It was a huge success: Parking spots are now bike lanes, transit is fast and easy, and the streets (and local businesses) are full of people.
If you decide to drive in downtown Oslo, be forewarned: You won’t be able to park on the street. By the beginning of this year, the city finished removing more than 700 parking spots–replacing them with bike lanes, plants, tiny parks, and benches–as a major step toward a vision of a car-free city center.
The changes, unsurprisingly, have been met with some resistance, both from car owners and businesses. But while business owners initially worried about the city creating a ghost town that no one would visit, the opposite seems to be true; as in other cities that have converted some streets to pedestrian-only areas, the areas in Oslo that have been pedestrianized are some of the most popular parts of the city, Marcussen says. Last fall, after hundreds of parking spots had been removed, the city found that it had 10% more pedestrians in the center than the year before. “So that is telling me that we are doing something right,” she says.
Read about it!